By Adam Hart
"Can we ever pick a player, Belichick?"
That's an actual, censored text message received Thursday night during the NFL Draft. The Patriots had in fact picked a player -- beanstalk-dweller Nate Solder -- at No. 17 overall, but they also traded out of the 28th spot.
That deal brings added appeal to Day Two with the Patriots receiving No. 56 overall from the Saints to go along with Nos. 33 and 60 -- all second-round picks. So, yes, he will pick a player; probably going to be an active trader, as well.
And, as Bill Belichick told the media, the interest in Day Two's top selection is already hot.
Welcome to the trading post
A first-round run on quarterbacks has not quelled the need among every team interested in a signal-caller. The Bills (34), Bengals (35), Redskins (41, 49), and Raiders (48) might have their eyes on particular passers. Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, Ryan Mallett and Ricky Stanzi figure to be second-round targets. The Bills and Bengals can have their pick of the litter, unless Washington or Oakland trades up into New England's spot.
The haul from a deal for the 33rd pick could set up another stacked draft board in 2012; the Patriots currently have two first-round picks next year, acquiring New Orleans' on Day One. The team has until 6 p.m. to value the trade bids against actually drafting a player. And, yes, trading out will spawn more of those text messages. Delightful.
No matter how it unfolds at No. 33, the Patriots can add impact players in the second round. Expect the team to somehow move into the coveted 40-50 range. Some names to watch:
Ryan Williams - Was flossing an eyebrow ring on stage at the Draft, but that's not something for which he should be judged. He touts good vision and a certain slipperiness, but battled a hamstring injury in 2010.
Kendall Hunter - A smaller guy, but he runs like a firecracker.
Randall Cobb - A do-it-all type of guy who ran for, threw and caught touchdowns at Kentucky. Has a workmanlike attitude which would seemingly fit into the team-first mantra in Foxborough. A special athlete, he's spent time at receiver, unlike 2009 seventh-round pick Julian Edelman.
Torrey Smith - His gait is reminiscent of Randy Moss. His hands? They're decent.
There is still a need here because there's no guarantee Logan Mankins will return and Stephen Neal retired. Dan Connolly is penciled in, but some depth would be nice.
John Moffitt - Can play guard or center. Plays with a mean streak, but told Tom E. Curran he needs to improve his pass blocking.
Clint Boling - A guard in the NFL, he would be.
Allen Bailey - Belichick watched film with Bailey and his teammates at Miami. He's "country strong," but it doesn't always translate to the field. Played linebacker a bit at Miami, but has said he prefers defensive end. Could he play that Willie McGinest-type role? Maybe.
Chris Carter - Played at Fresno State, trained with McGinest, but is relatively little. He puts in the hard work to improve his game and excels at rushing the passer. If the coaching staff wants a player who can corral Mark Sanchez on third down, Carter might be the pick.
Akeem Ayers - Played across UCLA's linebacker corps, but tended to arrive on the tail end of plays. Still, there are some who are smitten over his athleticism.
Drake Nevis - He would fit in that Jarvis Green role, playing along the line on third down. Nevis has excellent burst off the snap and can knife into the backfield, but is not considered suitable for the base 3-4.
Ras-I Dowling - An injury-plagued season caused his stock to drop. He is a great tackler for a cornerback, and perhaps could be aided by a move to safety in the NFL.
There, that should cover all 32 picks in the second round.